MCLEAN, VA-U.S. sales of machine tools totaled $174 million in February.

According to the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), February sales were level with January sales, but up 54.6 percent compared with sales in February 2003. Sales for the first 2 months of 2004 total $347.88 million, up 40.4 percent compared with the first 2 months of 2003.

"February is the fourth straight month in which consumption was higher than the year-earlier month," says John B. Byrd, president of AMT.